Aboriginal history

Working in partnership with Aboriginal communities and other stakeholders to connect people to their Aboriginal ancestry, promote reconciliation and celebrate the richness of our shared history.

Warning: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website may contain images and voices of deceased persons.

Research Services

Richard Wallery-Stack with a didgeridoo

Aboriginal History Research Services

Helping Aboriginal families with ancestral information through professional researchers, advice for native title and general research.

A history image of Aboriginal women peeling potatoes

Family history

Need help with your Aboriginal family history research? We may hold information in our collections about you or your direct ancestors.

Two Aboriginal men and an Aboriginal women in front of a tent

General research

This is a site for authors, academics, students, government agencies and people doing community history research or anyone with an interest in Aboriginal history in WA.


Native title

Native title researchers can request access to records to gather evidence relevant to a native title claim.

Wadjemup online database

Map of Wadjemup prepared by surveyor A.J. Lewis with later amendments, c.1909. S2168, cons5698, item 1493, State Records Office of WA

A history of Aboriginal incarceration at Rottnest Prison

A reconciliation project acknowledging the prison history between 1900-1931, with new research discoveries and historical photographs. Launching in November. Watch this space for regular updates and progress.

Publications and projects

Gnarla Boodja Mili Mili (Our Country on Paper)

Gnarla Boodja Mili Mili (Our Country on Paper)

An online interactive map acknowledging the names of Noongar places throughout the Perth CBD area, also known as Boorlo or Burrell in the Noongar language.
Moore River Native Settlement Centenary Photographic Collection cover

Moore River Native Settlement and Mogumber Cemetery Centenary

Moore River Native Settlement Centenary photographic collection​
No Less Worthy cover

No Less Worthy

A publication acknowledging the significant contribution of WA Aboriginal volunteers to the World War One effort.

Right Wrongs

'67 Referendum – WA 50 years on.
They Served With Honour cover

They Served With Honour

Untold Stories of Western Australian Aboriginal Servicemen at Gallipoli.


Treasures of Western Australia digitised and accessible to all

Dec 5, 2019, 11:17 AM by Geoff White
A new, free digital platform that provides access to the extraordinary collections from Western Australia's main cultural institutions through a single, searchable portal, has gone live.
  • ​New digital portal shares Western Australia's treasures with the world
  • Culture WA combines collections from WA's State cultural institutions
  • Single, searchable portal reveals a more complete picture of WA's iconic stories

A new, free digital platform that provides access to the extraordinary collections from Western Australia's main cultural institutions through a single, searchable portal, has gone live.

Visit Culture WA

Culture and the Arts Minister David Templeman today announced the launch of Culture WA which brings together collections from the Western Australian Museum, the State Library of Western Australia, and the State Records Office of Western Australia. Collections from the Art Gallery of Western Australia will be uploaded next year and will feature exciting new Aboriginal content.

The first phase of the Culture WA portal incorporates about 1.6 million collection records, covering material that ranges from single documents, research papers, maps and papers, to clothing, medals and toys, to thousands of scientific specimens. Being able to search the State's diverse collections from a single point will improve and broaden access to the unique stories of Western Australia.

Culture WA will also be a platform to share some of the significant but lesser-known stories from collections through objects that are not always on public display. One of those featured is the work, life and tragic death of C.Y. O'Connor, the State's first Engineer in Chief. Visitors to the portal can view material relating to engineering works he was responsible for, including Fremantle Harbour and the Goldfields Water Supply Scheme. They can also read the last words he wrote before taking his own life. The note is part of the inquest records of his death held by the State Records Office — a sombre personal document but also an important part of WA's history.

Also featured is a story about the Perth Prohibited Area — the result of a former government policy which excluded people of Aboriginal heritage from the centre of Perth. The Prohibited Area was enforced from 1927 until it was abolished in 1954 and required Aboriginal people to always carry a permit or 'Native Pass' on their person, which was to be produced immediately when questioned by authorities.

The portal has been created using existing resources from across the State's culture portfolio agencies. As more of the State's collections are digitised and uploaded, more information and stories will become available.


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Page reviewed 04 September 2020